Previous month:
August 2013
Next month:
October 2013

September 2013

A Puggle is Born at Australia Zoo

1 puggle

Who's this little critter? It's a 30-day-old Echidna baby, known as a 'puggle'— one of only 24 ever bred in captivity! The proud parents are Tippy and Pickle of Australia Zoo. The tiny baby, whose sex has not been announced, is well cared for by its mom, Tippy. 

Echidnas are monotremes, the only living group of egg-laying mammals. Echidnas breed in July and August. Four weeks after conception, the mother lays a single, soft egg and places it in a pouch on her abdomen. After just ten days, a tiny, naked puggle hatches and continues to develop in mom's warm pouch, lapping up milk secreted from glands on her abdomen. The puggle will stay in Tippy's pouch for about 60 days until it is just too spiky to carry around. Then she will hide her baby in a burrow under a log and return to nurse it occasionally until it is weaned at about seven or eight months old. 

2 puggle

3 puggle

4 pugglePhoto credits: Australia Zoo

Echidnas live only in Australia and New Guinea. They have no teeth, but are well adapted to eat termites, ants, beetle-larvae, and other soil invertebrates: their large strong claws are great for breaking open rotting logs, and their long snouts allow them to root around in soil. Short-beaked Echidnas are a very common species, but the other three species (the Sir David's Long-beaked, Eastern Long-beaked, and Western Long-beaked Echidnas) are listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. They are threatened by hunting as well as by habitat loss from logging and agricultural expansion. The successful birth of another puggle in captivity brings us a step closer to conserving these unique creatures. 

UPDATE! Clouded Leopard Cub Plays with Future Mate at Point Defiance Zoo

1 leopard

At the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, the Clouded Leopard cub Tien has a new playmate, who will hopefully become his mate one day. Sang Dao (pronounced Sing Dow), five and a half months old, arrived on September 12 from Tanganyika Wildlife Park near Wichita, Kansas. She’s been settling into her new zoo, and keepers have started introducing her to Tien, who was born May 1 at Point Defiance. These photos were taken the day after her arrival. The two cubs—and their caretakers—seem to have had a wonderful rough-and-tumble time at the introduction. 

“She’s a go-getter girl with high energy,” Senior Staff Biologist Andy Goldfarb says of the new arrival. 

Sang Dao will be visible to visitors in the cub den at the zoo, and she and Tien will sometimes appear there together. The pair will be raised together with the aim of eventually breeding to further their endangered species. They are part of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for Clouded Leopards. Clouded Leopards typically breed around the age of two.

2 leopard

3 leopard

4 leopard

5 leopardPhoto Credits: Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Counting Sang Dao, the zoo now has seven of these endangered creatures.  Overall, there are 96 in North American zoos, and it is not known how many live in their native habitat in Southeast Asia, according to Point Defiance.

See many more playdate photos after the fold!

Continue reading "UPDATE! Clouded Leopard Cub Plays with Future Mate at Point Defiance Zoo" »

The Adventures Begin for Zoo Berlin's Ocelot Kitten

1 ocelot

Kittens always seem to be crowd-pleasers, but sometimes it takes a little while for them to venture outside. Zoo Berlin welcomed an Ocelot kitten on July 16, and the little one has been nursing, sleeping and growing strong out of the public's sight, until recently. Keepers have noticed some stirrings now that the kitten is about nine weeks old. Even though these cats are mostly nocturnal, visitors have an increasing chance of catching a glimpse of the beautifully-patterned mother and baby.  As the zoo's press release noted, the elusive nature of these creatures might not be the best draw for the zoo— but it certainly is typical cat! The nine-year-old mother does a good job keeping her baby out of sight. 

2 ocelot

3 ocelot

4 ocelot

5 ocelotPhoto credits: Zoo Berlin

Ocelots live in a variety of ecosystems in Central and South America, from tropical forests of all types to grasslands, coastal mangroves and marshes, and thorny scrublands. Their range once included the Gulf Coast of the United States, but now only a very small number remain, mostly in south Texas and Arizona. These cats were heavily hunted for their spotted fur, but are now protected throughout most of their range. 

Because Ocelots are solitary and territorial cats, the father is living in a separate enclosure to ensure that mother and baby have the space and privacy that they need. Ocelots have a  fairly low reproductive rate, which poses a challenge to conservation. A litter size of one kitten is typical, and offspring develop slowly.  A kitten's eyes remain closed for up to 18 days, and juveniles often stay with their mother for up to two years before leaving to establish their own territory.

"Thunderbirds" Thriving After Stormy Start

Zoo keepers at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park have nicknamed five Chilean Flamingo chicks “Thunderbirds” after the eggs were abandoned by their parents during a thunderstorm.

IT_Flamingo Chick_01
IT_Flamingo Chicks_08
Photo Credit:  Longleat Safari & Adventure Park

A violent thunderstorm apparently caused the parents to flee the nest and take shelter.  When the adult Flamingoes did not return to the nest, zoo keepers at the United Kingdom zoo collected the eggs from the nests and placed them in an incubator, where they hatched.  Now about a month old, the five chicks are fed by syringe five times per day.

Adult flamingos build a volcano-shaped nest and lay a single egg, which they then usually sit on for around a month.  “It’s extremely unusual for all the parents to abandon their eggs at the same time, however the storm was particularly severe and the adults decided to head for cover – leaving us to look after the eggs,” said Longleat’s Mark Tye.

All Flamingo chicks are born with white plumage, which they keep for around three years.  The bright red pigment in Flamingoes’ feathers is derived from pigments in the small crustaceans and other microscopic plants that the birds eat.  In zoos, special pigments are added to the Flamingoes’ diet to maintain their brilliant hues.

Chilean Flamingoes are native to lakes high in the Andes Mountains of South America and can easily withstand cold temperatures.

A Little Miracle Arrives at Belfast Zoo's Gorilla House

(3)  The latest arrival is a male and was born to mother, Kwanza, and father, Gugas, on 3 August 2013.
The first Western Lowland Gorilla born at the Belfast Zoo in 16 years is being called a “little miracle” because his father was thought to be infertile.

The male baby was born to mother Kwanza and father Gugas on August 3.  Through an online voting contest, fans named the baby “Baako,” which means “first-born child.”   He is thriving in the zoo’s Gorilla habitat.

(2)  You can help the zoo name their latest arrival by voting for your favourite name at
(1)  On 3 August 2013, Belfast Zoo welcomed the first gorilla to be born at the zoo in 16 years!
Photo Credit:  Belfast Zoo

Because Gugas was born in the wild, he is genetically important to the European Gorilla breeding program.   Zoo Curator Julie Mansell explains, “Because Gugas is so important, last year we decided to test his fertility. The results were less than promising and it was suspected that Gugas would never father any infants. You can therefore imagine the entire team’s delight when we discovered that Kwanza was pregnant with her little miracle!”

Gugas had an unfortunate start to life when his parents were killed, most likely victims of poaching for bushmeat.  After being acquired and later abandoned by a circus, Gugas finally arrived at Belfast Zoo in 1998 where he joined a social group.

Western Lowland Gorillas are listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.   They inhabit forests and swamps in western central Africa.  Though they are the most numerous subspecies of Gorilla, Western Lowland Gorillas are threatened by poaching and habitat loss, as well as a significant threat from the Ebola virus, which is an extremely virulent pathogen affecting humans and nonhuman primates such as Gorillas.

See more photos of Baako below the fold.

Continue reading "A Little Miracle Arrives at Belfast Zoo's Gorilla House" »

The Kiwi Hatching Season Begins at Auckland Zoo

1 kiwi

Auckland Zoo's first Kiwi chick has successfully pipped its way through the shell of its egg, officially kicking off this year's Kiwi breeding season. The parents of this yet-to-be-named chick are Two-Toes (Dad) and Binky (Mum) from a private farm in Tanekaha. Tanekaha Community Group is a collection of 20 farms that have been funded by Northland Regional Council to make their farms a safe haven for breeding kiwis. 

From now until March next year, Auckland Zoo's bird team will be working hard incubating, hatching, rearing and releasing Kiwi chicks as part of the BNZ Operation Nest Egg program. The program was started to help increase the survival of Kiwi chicks from wild nests, which are heavily preyed upon by stoats. To date, Auckland Zoo has released 266 kiwi chicks into the wild.

2 kiwi

3 kiwiPhoto credits: Aukland Zoo

Zookeeper Michelle Whybrow filmed the hatching of their second Kiwi chick of the season, also from a Tanekaha farm:


About the size of domestic chickens, Kiwis are flightless birds related to ostriches and emus. These shy, nocturnal birds are found only in New Zealand. All five species of Kiwi are decreasing in number, threatened by loss of habitat and by mammalian predators introduced by humans.  To learn more about the recovery effort coordinated by the BNZ Operation Nest Egg Program, click here

An Endangered Przewalksi's Horse Joins the Herd at Highland Wildlife Park

1 horse

Keepers at the Highland Wildlife Park in Scotland have just welcomed their first new-born Przewalski’s horse in five years. Born on September 2 to 12-year-old mare Ieda, the plucky little youngster is doing well and can already be seen out and about in the Park's main reserve.

Przewalski’s horses were once extinct in the wild, with the last wild horse seen in 1968. A small captive-bred population was reintroduced in Mongolia's Hustai National Park in the 1990s. There are now around 1,500 Przewalski's horses found in captive breeding programs throughout the world, with a further 250 or so found in the wild. Now listed as Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List, they are the only true wild horse species to survive.

2 horse

3 horse

4 horsePhoto Credits: Highland Widllife Park

Douglas Richardson, head of living collections for the Highland Wildlife Park, says, "Przewalski's horses are one of the best examples of the positive conservation role that good zoos can play. Had it not been for the cooperatively managed captive population, when the species became extinct in the wild in the late 1960s there would have been no reintroduction option that has allowed us to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat."

See and learn more about the herd after the fold.

Continue reading "An Endangered Przewalksi's Horse Joins the Herd at Highland Wildlife Park" »

Lincoln Park Zoo Hand-raises a Wee Klipspringer

1 klipspringer

A Klipspringer —a tiny antelope native to Central and Eastern Africa—was born in early August at Lincoln Park Zoo in Illinois. Unfortunately, the baby’s mother didn’t display proper maternal care, and so the little one had to be removed to be hand-reared.  Animal care staff have done an excellent job nurturing the baby and it continues to grow behind-the-scenes at the zoo. Even at full size, the dwarf antelope will only measure 20 inches (51 cm) in height and weigh about 24 pounds (11 kg). 

2 klipspringer

3 klipspringer

4 klipspringerPhoto Credits: Lincoln Park Zoo

This common antelope species prefers rocky habitats, such as mountains and river gorges.  Klipspringers' hooves have a rubbery texture in the center that helps them grip rock, and the tough, sharp outer edges keep them firmly planted. They eat grasses, leaves, buds and fruits.

Klipspringers typically live in small family groups composed of a breeding pair and their young offspring. They are territorial, marking their territories with small scent-producing glands located on the face. Males can use their pointy, four-inch-long (10 cm) horns to wrestle for mates. After breeding, the female bears her young in a rocky alcove, where the offspring will remain for two-three months to be protected against predators.

Zoo Vienna's Elephant Calf is a Conservation Success

1 elephant

At Zoo Vienna, the wait is over: after a lengthy gestation period of 645 days, Tonga the African Elephant brought a baby into the world. The little pachyderm, born on September 4, is a female.  She follows her mother's every step with clumsy feet, and nurses about every half hour. Zoo Staff have picked out three names to chose from but haven't decided on the perfect one yet. 

This is the second offspring for 28-year-old Tonga, who has lived at the zoo since 1998. Her first calf was born in 2003.  Says Zoo Director Dagmar Schratter, "Tonga is the matriarch of our herd and generally a very balanced animal."  She is devoted and caring mother, and will be raising for her own baby. For now, Tonga and her calf will live separate from the rest of the herd, to ensure that they will be able to bond and rest together. 

2 elephant

3 elephant

4 elephant

Photo credits: Zoo Vienna

For Zoo Vienna, the coordinator of the European studbook for African Elephants, this is the fourth birth. Worldwide, the little elephant is a sensation: she is the first calf conceived through artificial insemination using frozen semen. The father is a wild bull from the Phinda Gamer Reserve in Africa, who was placed under general anesthesia for the collection.  

Artificial insemination is now routine in African Elephant breeding - but only with fresh or chilled semen. To transport the sperm of a wild bull of Africa in a European zoo, but it had to be frozen. But the sperm of elephants are extremely sensitive: only two cases using frozen and thawed sperm had resulted in a fertilization, and both pregnancies ended early. The successful new technique was developed by a team from the Berlin Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research. 

This new method is a great opportunity: it can be used to help strengthen the genetics of not only elephants, but of other endangered species in captivity as well. This little elephant is a positive result of a successful collaboration between the Vienna Zoo and Berlin Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW), the Zooparc de Beauval and the Pittsburgh Zoo.

Buffalo Zoo Welcomes Baby Gorilla

The Buffalo Zoo is celebrating the birth of a baby Western Lowland Gorilla! 

The baby was born on Wednesday, September 4 to first-time mother Lily, age 12 and father, Koga, age 26. Lily has displayed strong maternal instincts and is taking great care of the troop’s latest addition. Keepers have not been able to get close enough to the baby to determine its gender, though they believe it is a girl. Both mother and baby are doing well. 


Photo Credit:  Kelly Brown

During Lily’s pregnancy, the keeper staff was able to monitor the baby’s growth using ultrasound technology. Lily had been trained to present her abdomen to keepers and remain calm during the ultrasound process, so she did not need to be anesthetized in order to obtain images of the fetus. The measurement of the baby in utero is important to the study and husbandry of Gorillas. 

The gestation period of Gorillas is eight and a half months. Gorillas begin walking when they are between three and six months of age, and are weaned around three years of age. Western Lowland Gorillas are found in the lowland tropical forests of central Africa. The species is Critically Endangered due to loss of habitat as well as the bush meat trade.